Inulin is a fructooligosaccharide (FOS) found in foods such as chicory, garlic and leeks. Inulin is a form of soluble fiber, meaning it that it dissolves in water to form a gelatinous material. It is indigestible by the human enzymes ptyalin and amylase, which are adapted to digest starch. As a result, inulin passes through much of the digestive system intact. Because normal digestion does not break inulin down into monosaccharides, it does not elevate blood sugar levels. Inulin also stimulates the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestines. Inulin passes through the stomach and duodenum undigested and is highly available to the gut bacterial flora. When combined with beneficial bacteria in a probiotic supplements, inulin helps the bacteria survive the challenging conditions of the gastrointestinal tract until they are able to colonize the intestines.
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